Halim Suh speaks on Mark 11:1-11
Series: The Gospel of Mark
At this point in the Gospel of Mark we’re entering into something really significant. Chapters 1 through 10 describe Jesus’ earthly ministry, a period of three years. Now chapters 11 through 16, describe Jesus’ last week on earth. Ten chapters devoted to three years versus six chapters devoted to one week. Everything happening has been leading up to this: Jesus entering into Jerusalem to be God’s one and only spotless lamb, who takes away the sins of the world. This is the climax to His story of redemption.
At first glance, everything seemed to be in line with what should be happening. Jesus was entering into Jerusalem to die on the cross. He was the Messiah that had been promised for centuries, finally there to be the salvation of His people.
Having the benefit of knowing the end of the story, we know all what’s happening. But the crowd here, at least on the surface, also seemed to know. They saw Jesus and start shouting, “Hosanna, Hosanna!”, meaning, “Save us, rescue us!”
It all seemed like the proper coronation for their King Jesus. The crowd loved Him. They were passionately singing and worshipping Him. It probably looked liked a worship service here at the Austin Stone. But something was deeply wrong.
By the end of the passage, the crowd had dispersed. And in just a few days, a few chapters later, we will see the same crowd shouting. But instead of shouting “Hosanna”, they will be shouting, “Crucify Him!”
Why? What was happening at the heart level, below the surface?
The Wrong Messiah
When Jesus entered into Jerusalem, the crowd thought He was finally accepting His Messiahship and was going to destroy and conquer Rome, kill all their enemies and establish an earthly kingdom.
When they were crying out, “Hosanna”, they didn’t have their personal salvation from sin in mind, but a national restoration, a political revolution. This had been their Messianic hope all along. So when they saw Jesus wasn’t going to give them what they wanted, they realized He wasn’t the Messiah they had been waiting for. They dispersed, many even turned violently against Him.
When you see a crowd responding in this way, what is your response? Disgust?
How could they do that? Or do you think that could be you and ask God for mercy?
Through the Old Testament, we see the Israelites constantly not getting it, complaining and not trusting God. Not realizing what God had done for them. In the New Testament, we see the disciples constantly failing over and over, arguing about who among them is greatest, while Jesus is going to the cross. Our first response is they’re all stupid. But then the Holy Spirit speaks and we realize that’s us too. We do all those things. The reason it’s all written down for us is so we know we do the same thing.
A Jesus of Our Own Making
The crowd was worshipping a Jesus of their own making. They were selective in their Scripture reading, picking and choosing for themselves what they liked about Jesus.
They liked all the prophecies about a promised one coming to establish a kingdom and rescue them. But they didn’t like Isaiah 53 where it explains Him doing this by dying and suffering. It was against their paradigm for a Messiah to suffer. He was supposed to rule, reign and conquer.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 (ESV)
They didn’t like hearing Him say this. It went in one ear and out the other. I wonder if this happens to you?
Jesus just said that if we want to follow Him and live, we must die. If we want to keep our life, we have to lose it. It goes in one ear and out the other, because it’s against our paradigm.
For the Jews, it was against their paradigm to have a Messiah that was not going to establish an earthly kingdom. But for you and I, it’s against our paradigm to have a savior that not’s going to make us happy and give us what we want.
What kind of Jesus are You Worshipping?
How do we know we have a Jesus of our own making?
We will praise Him, but will never suffer for Him. We will live for Him, without dying for Him. We will read the scriptures without ever truly obeying them. We will always seek to be happy in Jesus without ever denying ourselves for Jesus.
Are you worshipping the true Jesus of the Bible or one of your own making?
Have you created a Jesus that makes you feel better? A therapeutic Jesus? Living in this world is hard and bad things happen. You need a Jesus that comes along and reassures you, “It’s okay, I’m in control, I love you.” This is the one that I’m personally guilty of. When bad things happen, I immediately tell myself that it’s okay, God’s in control. Some may think it’s really great faith. But if I were honest, many times it’s not faith. It’s actually apathy. I tell myself these things because I don’t want to care, or feel or have to mourn with those who mourn. So I take a little dose of my Prozac Jesus so I can numb out the pain and not feel the fact that this world is broken.
Jesus is absolutely in control. But He was willing to feel and experience pain, to suffer and to weep. He calls us to do the same. We ought not use the sovereignty of God as an opportunity not to care. We ought to be, as Christians, the most deeply caring people on the earth.
Have you created a Wal-Mart Jesus? He’s a place you go to get all the things you want in life. But if He doesn’t give you what you want: that husband or job; then no big deal, you just look for another savior, somebody else that will give you what your heart wants.
The true Jesus will always give you what you need, even if it’s at the cost of not giving you what you want.
District Attorney Jesus
Have you created a District Attorney Jesus; your own personal attorney that will go after all those people who are making your life miserable?
The true Jesus will not only point out the wrongs and sins in the hearts of others, but also point them out in your heart. He’s not only offering you forgiveness for those sins, but also offers it to your worst enemies, those who have done the most harm to you.
Retirement Plan Jesus
Have you created a Retirement Plan Jesus? You’ll pay your dues: you will faithfully tithe, read your Bible, go to church and do everything; as long as Jesus will give you heaven at the end of the day. You earned it, right?
The true Jesus says that our righteousness is but filthy rags to Him. If we’re going to make it to heaven it won’t be by our merit, it’s going to be by His merit.
Are you worshipping a Jesus of your own making? Or the true Jesus of the Bible?
“God created us in His image and we decided to return the favor.”- George Bernard Shaw
How do you know whom you believe in?
We don’t need a savior who is a product of our wants, a god of our own making, one we’ve created for ourselves as a coping mechanism so we can live in a world that might cause us to suffer.
Does the jesus you worship ever contradict you? One of your own making won’t. He looks like you, made in your image. He will want the same things you want. He will let you stay exactly where you are and you will be miserable in this life and the next.
The true Jesus will contradict you. When you’re hating someone, He will stop and heal you by saying, “No, forgive, as I have forgiven you.” When you’re going astray, He says, “No, that’s not my way. That way leads to death, come follow me.” Only a real Jesus can change you, transform you and ultimately fulfill you.
W.H. Auden, one of the great English poets of the nineteen-thirties, went back to Christianity after being an Atheist. His friends asked him why. He answered, “I believe in Jesus because He fulfills none of my dreams. He is in every respect the opposite of what he would be if I could have made him in my own image.” He’s saying that he read the New Testament and Jesus is not a savior that anyone would have made up. He contradicts what we want, defies expectations. He is the opposite of everything he would be if he could have made him up. Therefore, He’s real. They asked him, “What about Buddha or Mohammed?” He responded, “None of the others arouse all sides of my being to cry, ‘Crucify Him’.”
What’s the hope?
If you’re struck like I was and are now able to see yourself in that crowd, what’s the hope for people like us? We just don’t get it. We’re selective in our embrace of Jesus. We love singing, but reject the suffering.
The good news is Jesus didn’t go to the cross for people who got it. He went for people who totally missed it. The true Jesus rescues us from the jesus of our own making.
How do we know He does that?
41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Luke 19:41-42 (ESV)
As He was hearing the praises of His people, He knew He would soon hear them yelling, “Crucify Him!” So He wept. These tears ought not to be interpreted as Jesus just wanting to love His people, but they won’t love Him back. These are the tears of God’s divine mercy. He has every right to destroy them completely, but instead He’s going to the cross for them.
Jesus’ Kingship Now
This offer of kindness and humility is the reason we see Him riding in on a donkey. It’s a fulfillment of a five hundred year old prophecy:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 (ESV)
By riding into Jerusalem on a donkey He’s saying He’s the promised king that’s coming to Jerusalem. He’s also saying that He’s a king who won’t fit into any of their categories. Usually a king would ride into a city on a warhorse, with pedigree. The donkey was to demonstrate humility and divine condescension. The same picture of why Jesus was born into the world in the first place. It’s God humbling himself, taking upon himself the likeness of a servant. This is the wonder of the kingship of Jesus.
For now, it is meek, lowly, forgiving and patient. It is a kingship that saves sinners, that offers amnesty and pardon. It is only for now, because there’s coming a day when the kingship of Jesus will be very different.
Jesus’ Kingship Soon
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:11-16 (ESV)
Instead of a donkey, Jesus will come on a white horse. Instead of forgiving, He will judge and make war. Instead of being meek and lowly, His robe will be drenched with the blood of His enemies. When the kingship of Jesus appears like that in the sky it will be too late to switch sides.
Paul contemplates the brief window of Jesus’ kingship where he offers pardon and amnesty.
2 For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2 (ESV)
You are living in a season of wonder. Jesus is offering forgiveness now, but He will not always. He’s offering salvation now, but will not always.
Let’s not regard the kindness of the riches of God lightly. It’s this kindness of God that is inviting us to repent from worshipping a jesus of our own making and to know and worship the real Jesus. The true Jesus.
If we repent and submit ourselves to the true Jesus, we’ll be able to take part in a better gathering of a people in the days to come:
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:9-12 (ESV)
Who are these clothed in white robes?
14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7:14 (ESV)
They’re the ones coming out of the great tribulation, the ones who submitted to the true Jesus. These people suffered much. Submitting ourselves to the true Jesus in this world is going to be hard. It may mean hunger, thirst or being scorched by the sun. It will mean suffering, pain, sorrow and the loss of wants.
But as hard as it may be to submit to the true Jesus, I promise you on that day, when a great multitude is gathered, a people from every tongue, tribe and nation, shouting, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” and the angels shout back, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God! Amen,” you will want to be there!
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:16-17 (ESV)
As you experience the hand of God wipe away every tear from your eye, all the suffering, pain, sorrow and loss of wants will have all been worth it.